A man faces hate crime charges after feds say he burned a cross and displayed a swastika to intimidate his Black neighbor

An Indiana man who burned crosses, displayed swastikas and made signs with racist slurs was charged with a hate crime for intimidating his Black neighbor, the Department of Justice said this week.

Shepherd Hoehn, 50, was also charged with two counts of unlawful weapons possession, the DOJ said.

The intimidation began when his Black neighbor, who investigators did not name, was removing a tree from his own property in Lawrence, Indiana, the DOJ said.

A construction crew came to Hoehn’s neighbor’s home in mid-June and began to remove the tree. Hoehn became angry at his neighbor’s decision to remove the tree and “took several steps to intimidate and interfere with his neighbor and the construction workers,” according to a complaint filed in connection with the matter.

Among his intimidation tactics, according to the DOJ: Burning a cross above the fence line facing his neighbor’s property, displaying a swastika on the outer side of his fence and making a large sign with “anti-Black racial slurs” next to the swastika.

He also displayed a machete near the sign with the racial slurs, threw eggs at his neighbor’s home and loudly played the song “Dixie” on repeat (the word “dixie” is thought to be connected to the antebellum South, when slavery was legal and romanticized), the DOJ said.

The FBI searched Hoehn’s home on July 1 and found several firearms and drug paraphernalia, the DOJ said. Hoehn was a fugitive from a case in Missouri and therefore couldn’t lawfully own firearms.

If convicted, Hoehn faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each of the charges.

Hoehn’s attorney, Sam Ansell, declined to comment when reached by CNN.

The DOJ has reported about several racially motivated crimes this year, but it’s not yet known whether 2020 has seen a surge in hate crimes compared to years previous.


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